For many people, moving into university accommodation and away from home is a highlight of the ‘university experience’, but what about those of us that live close enough to travel in?
Whether it’s due to the cost, commitments outside of LSE or simply not feeling ready to leave home, there are plenty of students who commute from both inside and outside of London.
My day starts off early at around 6:15am, but this is due to external commitments which include tending to my horse before I do anything else. Luckily, I’m a morning person so the early start is no trouble for me, plus I get to see some pretty impressive sunsets during the winter months. Obviously, this may not be the case for most commuters as many people I know get up to come in at around 8am or later depending on their classes.
One of the sunrises I have been lucky enough to witness!
Depending on my classes, I usually catch the train between 8:30am and 9:25am which means if I arrive early, I can make use of the library or another study space to get some work done before my day properly kicks off. I also find the train useful for getting work such as typing up notes or reading done, however if it gets busy or noisy, I tend not to bother as the noise is a distraction (that’s just my preference though as everyone works differently). During longer days where I’m on campus from the morning through to the evening I use the journey as an opportunity to unwind, listen to some music and usually have a snack. My journey takes around an hour depending on which train I catch, and sometimes I must change trains halfway through my journey so I find it’s important to have plenty to do as the commute can sometimes feel like it’s dragging on and the wait between trains can feel like forever.
Waiting at Waterloo on a Friday afternoon for the last train of the week!
As I mentioned previously, sometimes I don’t get out of campus until the evening. This leads to an enjoyable walk through the strand, across waterloo bridge and into Waterloo Station – especially in the autumn/winter when it’s dark and the theatres are lit up as well as the London Eye. Plus by this time many business commuters have left which means the train is relatively empty and you’re almost always guaranteed a seat. Sometimes, if you’re not in a hurry, it’s better to wait for rush hour to pass rather than trying to fight your way onto a packed train.
There are two main things that I ensure I do to increase the chances of getting a seat, which are making sure I get to the station at least 10 minutes before the train leaves as not only does this mean I won’t be rushing but it also means the train is more likely to be empty as chances are it will have only just arrived. The other thing I make sure I do is walk to the front of the train, as the trains are usually around 8-10 coaches long not everyone has the patience to walk down the length of the platform so again, the train is more likely to be empty or at least quieter.
A big factor that I didn’t even think of until fresher’s week was feeling like I was missing out. It wasn’t until people were talking about parties, events and activities within their accommodation or amongst their flatmates that I realised the social life may not be the easiest from home. However, even by just explaining that I was commuting and that not all events were within easy access to me, I managed to find people who understood and were willing to make other plans with me that didn’t mean I’d be racing time to get the last train home. Similarly, my subject having a group chat means that we can formulate plans that everyone can get involved in no matter where they’re coming from.
All in all, I believe just like staying in accommodation, commuting has made me a more independent person- it’s definitely its own unique part of the university experience. Whilst there’s no denying that it can be draining and at times the most annoying part of my day, it’s definitely made up for when I get to arrive home to my own bedroom with my own bed (and of course my pets). Plus, the journey’s can be quite entertaining with the challenges of delays, cancellations and whatever else gets thrown at you, commuting never leads to a dull moment.